Wednesday, February 29, 2012


We are the proud owners of a 2012 Kia Sorento!

Since finding out that we were having another baby, Dena and I have been discussing the fact that we would probably need a new car, something bigger. I started looking at options for a small to medium-sized SUV. There are lots of options for SUVs, but we either didn't like most them or they were too expensive.

Now, if you know anything about me, you might know that I am a researcher. I research most major purchases that we make to ensure that we are getting the best product and the best deal. I enjoy reading about the product, learning the features, reading expert reviews, etc. I was hesitant, at first, to even bother looking at the Kia, because, well, it was a KIA! But I did start reading about them and found out that they had come a long way in the last few years, a lot like Hyundai has. I was surprised to find out that Kia and Hyundai are the same parent company, like Chevy and GMC

Through my research, I found out that the Sorento is a IIHS Top Safety Pick, it gets great gas mileage, it has an optional 3rd row seat, and it has some of the best options and features in it's class. Even better than all of this, it was WAY cheaper than the other cars we were looking at. Basically, we could get a brand new Kia for the same price that we could get a medium mileage version of the other cars.

After many hours researching the best prices and the options that we wanted, I was able to negotiate a VERY fair price with a salesman at Huffines Kia in McKinney. After searching all over Texas and Oklahoma, the dealership was finally able to locate a car that matched what we were looking for. Monday night we went to the dealership to sign all of the paperwork and to trade-in Dena's Malibu. Our car hadn't arrived from Oklahoma yet, but they gave us a loaner to take home for the night.

Dena picked up our (really it's hers) new car yesterday and we couldn't be happier! I highly recommend researching your next car purchase on a site like I also recommend doing all of your price negotiations via email. Email negotiations allow you to state just the facts and to not deal with the high-pressure sales tactics of most dealerships.

Our new family-sized car!
 Now we just have to find a place to get a read DVD system installed...I guess I need to do some more research!

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Survivor - A person who survives, esp. a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died, also, a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

Tucker and his friends are the epitome of the definition of the word survivor, they are the physical embodiment of the concept.

We had the pleasure of attending and helping host our annual Amazing Little Hearts "Heart" party this weekend. Each year, we bring all of our families together at the hospital and celebrate our kids' lives, strength, and perseverance. We have a celebration cake, crafts, games, snacks, a blood drive, and tons of photos. More importantly, we have the opportunity to share our kids and our stories with each other and to show that we are not all alone in this life.

Our kids, our survivors, our miracles are so important to us and to each other. Many of our kids have survived a terrible malady that would have meant certain death only a few short years ago, Tucker included. As late as 10 years ago, the life-saving surgery that Tucker had was still considered risky enough that many families were told to just take their baby home and enjoy the remaining time that they had left with them. Yet, Tucker and his friends have found a way to defy the odds and live. God deserves the credit and the glory for this blessing, but it also shows the strength that can be found in a life that is only a few days old.

Sadly, too many kids don't beat CHD. Despite the numerous medical advances that have been made, CHD is still thee #1 cause of birth defect related deaths and twice as many children die from CHD then from all forms of childhood cancer combined each year. More money is needed for CHD research and for the support of these families.

While we celebrate our kids and their survival, we are ALL ever mindful of what could happen at any time. We honor our kids, but we also honor those who have not survived. Kids like Liam, Joshua, Ewan, and countless others, whose lives ended far too soon. We hope and pray that our kids can live lives that honor the memory of those who didn't survive. We hope and pray that our work, as parents, can change things for those that come after us and that we can help them deal with this tough battle.

Dena and I pray each day that Tucker will grow up and appreciate the life that God has blessed him with and that he will have a heart to give back and help others. We hope that our example can give him a love and a passion for this important aspect of being a survivor.

Tucker is a survivor for a reason. We don't yet know what that reason is, but we pray that God gives us enough days to find out.

We invite you to join Tucker and some of his survivor friends for dinner tomorrow night. Monday, Feb. 13th from 6-10pm at Durkin's Pizza, we are having a fundraiser for Amazing Little Hearts. Our group will get 10% of sales and that money will support the families at Medical City Children's Hospital. Join us for great food and an even better cause, the address is:
8930 Hwy 121 Suite 594, McKinney, TX 75070. There will also be a proclamation from Texas Rep. Ken Paxton for CHD Awareness week.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

CHD Awareness Week - Day 2

Dena posted about some FAQs that come up often for us as CHD parents. Tonight, I want to take a moment to share some things that I have been working on and some things that our friends have been working on.

This may seem like a "mailed in" post, but I just think that we can create awareness in many different ways and one of those ways is sharing what others are doing to fight CHDs.

First, I would like to call you to action and ask for your help! One of our dear friends, Jennifer Hood, has put her words into action and done something to create change in the world of CHDs. Jennifer created a petition to the U.S. government for increased funding for CHD research. We need 25,000 signatures before March 3rd and we currently have 185. It only takes a minute to sign the petition and it doesn't cost a thing. I'm asking that each person who reads this page, take a second, sign the petition, then share the link to at least 5 other people. This project could lead to countless lives being saved. If you would like to participate, just click on the following link and sign the petition:!/petition/increase-funding-congenital-heart-defect-research-leading-cause-birth-defect-related-deaths/thjXMqzH. Don't forget to share!

Second, I would like to tell you a little about some things that I am doing for the CHD community. I have officially started working as the Director of Local Support for the newly created Whole Hearts Foundation, which was founded by our friend, Matt Hammitt, and his wife, Sarah. I'm working with families and groups, across the country, to coordinate efforts for CHD Awareness week. I am also helping to plan our Dallas fundraising event, which will be in March.

I am also working with, the newly created, website. Specifically, I am one of the dad bloggers for the site. My first two blog posts have been shared with the world, one of which happens to be on the topic of spreading CHD awareness. You can read my blogs by clicking on the following links: and . I would also encourage to read the other blogs that have been posted from a wide-range of bloggers, including Matt Hammitt, Tucker's Cardiologist, Dr. Thomas, one of Tucker's nurses, Holly Tomlin, and a couple of our CHD friends. You can see the rest of the blogs here:

In addition to the blogs that are available on, the website also offers a patient page that is specific to CHD patients. Basically, the patient page combines the best of sites like CaringBridge with the greatness of Facebook. I foresee a time, in the future, when we will close this site down and just have Tucker's page on It provides us with the ability to update family and friends, post pictures, and blog, but it also lets us have specific information about Tucker's heart defect, information from his doctors, videos, and many additional things. is going to change the lives of CHD patients and their families! You can create an account and visit Tucker's patient page by going to:

Third, I would like to direct your attention to some others who are fighting this battle along side of us. These are friends and acquaintances and their thoughts and ideas from their blogs are an inspiration to us! Our friend Jennifer Hood, who created the petition, has an amazing blog where she shares the trials and blessings that come from raising a child with a CHD and other disabilities. Her strength and passion have helped us through some tough times. Pay special attention to her last 3 posts:
Next, another local Heart mom has been doing some phenomenal writing this week for awareness. Again, pay special attention to the 2 most recent posts: The last one is a very poignant letter to her son's future wife and the one before that is a post that could potentially save your child's life!
I would also like to bring your attention to another friend of ours, Tara Johnson. Her son, Liam, was Tucker's roommate when he was recovering from his first surgery. Tara is also a great writer and she creates some awesome artwork. You can read some of their story and possible win a piece of her artwork by going to her blog:
Last, please take a minute to check out the blog of Kristine McCormick, whose daughter, Cora, passed away after 5 days of life because her CHD was undiagnosed. Kristine is single-handedly changing the world for babies. She is a driving force behind making pulse ox screenings required for all newborn babies. She is truly an inspiration! You can read about Cora and her mommy at:

Finally, I would like to take a minute to invite you to our 2nd Annual CHD Week fundraiser on Monday, Feb. 13th from 6-10pm at Durkin's Pizza in McKinney/Allen/Frisco. It will be at the same location as last year, but just in case, the address is:
8930 Hwy 121 Suite 594, McKinney, TX 75070. The food is great and you will be supporting our Amazing Little Hearts group to be able to provide meals, snacks, care bags, and financial assistance to families in the hospital. Our group will receive 10% of all sales, so the more the merrier!

As always, thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts and ramblings. Please help us spread CHD Awareness and save lives!

With love & Heart Hugs,

Trent, Dena, & Tucker


CHD Awareness Week - Day 1: FAQ

Today marks the beginning of CHD Awareness Week! Normally, Trent takes the honor of updating all of you and providing information about CHDs, but he asked me to take on the responsibility this year. My posts may not be what you've seen in the past nor may it be what you would like to see, but I'm just trying to share something new and important to me.

For Day 1, I saw this on the blog of a mother affected by CHDs and thought it might be interesting to use her idea of a FAQ session for those of you who might not know our story or still have questions about our journey.

Q: What do you want the public to know about congenital heart defects?

A: There are so many things, it's almost impossible to list them all. Perhaps the most important detail is that heart defects touch every 1 in 100 children. 1% may not sound like much, but heart defects are the number one killer of infants under the age of one. They are also more deadly than all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet they receive considerably less funding for research.
I also want people to know that there is no "cure" for a CHD. Yes, there are surgeries, but a child living with a CHD will always have side-effects. His/her stamina will never be that of a normal child. Simple illnesses like colds will always be more dangerous. Physical exertion, which stresses and ages the heart, will always have to be monitored and sometimes limited. Just because you can't see anything wrong with them doesn't mean they're "fine." They will never be "fine."

Q: What causes congenital heart defects?
A: I wish I had an answer, but I've been assured many times by many experts that even the most intelligent and experienced doctors have no idea what causes them. There are tons of theories, but none of them has been proven to actually cause heart defects, only to increase risks.

Q: Do you know why your son has a heart defect?
A: Not at all. I ask myself this same question all the time, but I have to trust that God had a plan for our family and that He knows why, but I don't think I'll ever have a definite answer.

Q: You said your son had two open-heart surgeries. What's wrong with his heart?
A: Tucker is missing one of the four chambers of his heart. The left ventricle, the largest of the four chambers, is responsible for pumping blood out to the body after it has come from the lungs and been cleaned up through the left atrium. Without this vital part of the heart (and a series of three life-saving surgeries), Tucker's body would suffocate and die.

Q: Does that mean that Tucker has a lot of restrictions on what he can do physically?
A: At this point in his life, Tucker has no official restrictions. Because he's not old enough to participate in sports, we don't have to limit him. If anything, he limits himself. When he starts getting out of breath, he stops running or jumping until he feels comfortable again. This will be something he'll have to self-monitor as he gets older, and only he can determine how much is too much. However, according to his cardiologist, he can do anything his body will allow him to do.

Q: How has Tucker's heart defect affected him?
A: It hasn't. He lives a very "normal" life. Like I said before, illnesses hit him a little harder, so we had a 4-day hospital stay Christmas 2010 for RSV, but we haven't seen any other direct effects. The most noticeable effects came at the very beginning of his life. Other than the difficulty of the first surgery, he had some feeding issues as a result of a temporary paralysis of his vocal cords. However, once the paralysis healed, the feeding issues disappeared -- and he certainly has his voice back!

Q: You said that Tucker's heart defect wasn't diagnosed until he was a day old? Can't heart defects be discovered during routine ultrasounds?
A: Many women do find out around their 20th week of pregnancy, but we did not. Those heart defects are typically noticed by a sonographer in the OB's office and referred to a perinatologist or pediatric cardiologist. We had two sonograms with a perinatologist (a specialist trained to look for abnormalities in fetuses), but it was never caught.

Q: How did you discover there was a problem?
A: Nothing seemed to be wrong with his heart until a lactation consultant who was working with us noticed he was breathing heavy and took him back to the nursery for observation. That's when the on-call pediatrician discovered a murmur (we later learned that feeding difficulties are an early symptom of a heart complication). At that point, we were told it could be one of three scenarios -- one being as simple as an in-utero artery that hadn't closed yet but could be treated with medication and the other being as complicated as an underdeveloped heart. We never imagined it could be the latter. For safety reasons, our delivering hospital decided to move us to a nearby hospital with more specialized resources, and shortly after we arrived there, we received the news that it was indeed the worst of the three scenarios and if we didn't get to Dallas immediately, we could lose our baby. With that statement, we were loading ourselves back into the incubator and ambulance for the final leg of our transport to Medical City Children's, where we later learned that Tucker was within 30 minutes of losing his life.

Q: How has this affected your marriage?
A: It certainly hasn't been easy, and we have questioned ourselves and each other more than once, but the struggle itself has shown us how strong our friendship and marriage was to begin with. There is no possible way we could have survived this nightmare if we hadn't understood how to comfort (and sometimes distract) the other person. I can't speak for Trent, but I can honestly say that witnessing his courage and resolve has motivated me to be a better person. In the chaos of the first few days, Trent threw himself into countless websites looking for information to explain to my feeble mind what was happening to the baby that I had just delivered, adored, and blamed myself for hurting. Additionally, and in no way am I trying to diminish the affect this CHD has had on our family and friends, there was no one else that could understand what it felt like to be in my shoes. Only Trent could understand what I was feeling, and I found comfort, peace, and respect in that fact. Those feelings continue now that we are expecting our second child. We are both experiencing the fear that comes with knowing our new baby has an increased risk, but we also know - beyond a shadow of doubt - that whatever happens, we did it once and we can do it again.

Q: What is the risk that the new baby will have a heart defect?
A: The chance of a CHD in any family is 1%. In our situation, the risk of another child with a CHD increases to 2%. However, we have been assured by our surgeon and cardiologist that it's very rare, and we have yet to meet a family that has more than one child with a CHD.

Thank you for taking the time to read the answers to these very important and common questions. If you have a question that was not addressed in this entry, please ask. We are more than happy to share anything that helps spread awareness and understanding of this complex and life-changing disease.

With heart hugs,

Trent, Dena, and Tucker